Identifying student need using the School Item Analysis report

Data matters to student outcomes – when teachers are able to use and implement assessment data effectively, they can drive improvement in student achievement and wellbeing outcomes. CESE Publication – What works best: Evidence-based practices to help improve NSW student performance.

The Online/Paper Item Analysis School Non-writing report shows how the selected school(s) has performed by NAPLAN item (i.e. questions) and compare this to NSW government schools (DoE). It allows schools to analyse their NAPLAN performance in each item of the assessment, and compare this to the performance of DoE students in the same item. It can support teachers and school leaders to identify strengths and gaps in the school’s teaching strategy.

The Online/Paper Item Analysis Non-writing report is found in the NAPLAN (DoE) app under the heading Online/ Paper Item Analysis App.

Screenshot showing the Online or Paper Item Analysis Non-writing report. Screenshot showing the Online or Paper Item Analysis Non-writing report.
Image: Online or Paper Item Analysis Non-writing report

Select multiple years to identify ongoing areas of need

This can help reduce misrepresentation of performance due to different cohort sizes and ability levels. Using assessment results across multiple years and comparing can give a realistic picture of areas of need. You will only be able to this in the Online report if you have completed NAPLAN Online in multiple years.

Compare results against a Statistically Similar School Group (SSSG) (Paper only)

Comparing results against the State is not always the most appropriate measure for analysing performance, as different socio-economic factors may influence results. Identifying areas of need, in comparison to SSSG, allows schools to set realistic improvement targets.

Scenario: Improve Year 3 numeracy relative performance by identifying areas of need

Over the past few years, your school has lower Year 3 Numeracy performance, compared to both the State and SSSG. Your Principal has asked you to develop a strategy to improve your school’s relative performance in Year 3 NAPLAN numeracy.

Begin by looking at multiple, previous Year 3 NAPLAN numeracy results

1. Open the Online/Paper Item Analysis Non-writing report (found in the NAPLAN (DoE) App under the heading Online/ Paper Item Analysis).
2. Generate the report using the appropriate slicers for:
- Which year? Current year. For multiple years hold down the control (PC) or command (Apple) key and make selections.
Which assessment? NAPLAN 3
- Which domain? Numeracy.
3. The first section shows you how the cohort responded to questions grouped by Syllabus outcome. If you would like to investigate a specific Syllabus outcome further, you can do this by clicking on outcome name. All questions relating to it will be reflected in the sections below.

Screenshot showing School percentage Correct by Syllabus Area Screenshot showing School percentage Correct by Syllabus Area
Image: Showing correct vs incorrect results


  • How does this compare to our internal assessments against Syllabus outcomes?
  • Which areas show strength?
  • Which areas show room for further investigation?

4. The second section provides an overview of how the cohort responded correctly to questions grouped by Band.

Screenshot showiing Band Analysis Screenshot showiing Band Analysis
Image: Overview of how the cohort responded correctly to questions grouped by Band.


  • Are there Questions Bands where your students have achieved well compared to SSSG (Paper only) and state?
  • Are there distinct differences to SSSG (Paper only) and State?
  • How does this information compare to our internal assessment data?

5. The next section provides a point of comparison to SSSG (Paper only) and the State for each individual question.

Screenshot showing Item Analysis Screenshot showing Item Analysis
Image: Point of comparison to SSSG paper only and the State


Are there questions where students have performed well compared to SSSG (Paper only) and State?

6. The next section displays the Item Analysis table. This is different for Online and Paper.

  • Both enable you to sort by difference to DoE. If your students completed NAPLAN Online be aware of the ‘Online N Exposed’ column. This is how many students saw the listed question.


Are there commonalities in correct/incorrect answers? (e.g. Skillset, Subdomain, Question Band)

7. The final section provides you with the students in the cohort and whether they got particular questions correct or incorrect. By selecting a question from the table, you can identify which students in the cohort answered incorrectly. This will support targeted intervention in areas of need.

Measure the impact of your targeted teaching strategies

If you implement a teaching strategy to target an area of need, it is important to check if the changes are making an impact. Short term growth can be measured through pre and post-testing of students on specific skills. Longer term, the School Item Analysis reports can identify changes in relative NAPLAN performance over time.

Once you have the data

You can then use this information to report back to staff on areas of need for the whole cohort and groups of students. In order to accurately determine a student’s overall skill, knowledge and understanding, we recommend using Scout data in conjunction with internal data sources.

Where to next?

You can access resources and information relating to differentiation here:

Strong Start, Great Teachers – Differentiating learning

NESA – Differentiated programming

Resources relating to literacy and numeracy:

CESE – How schools can improve literacy and numeracy

DOE - Teaching Strategies

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